Council of Ministers: CFP Reform in the Balance

23rd April 2013 in Europe / Common Fisheries Policy

The Council of Ministers held in Luxembourg on 22nd April will not go down as one of the decisive turning points in history.

The Irish Presidency is straining every sinew to secure a CFP reform deal. But after a sluggish start to the “trialogue” negotiations between the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission, there are fears that it could run out of time before it has to hand over to the incoming Lithuanian Presidency. The Irish Minister claimed from the chair that the process had been energised with fresh commitments to progress from all sides. However, as CAP reform is also on the agenda and will occupy the June Council, the reality is that a deal has to be put together at the May Council. Even the Lithuanians consider that they don’t have the capacity to handle CFP reform. In any event they will have the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund to deal with on their watch.

The danger in all of this is a Presidency desperate to secure a deal will snatch at any deal on offer, rather than the right deal for fish, fishing and fishermen.

The Council primarily involved a table round in which the member states confirmed or reconfirmed their positions on the main themes in the reform. The UK underlined the importance of a move towards regionalisation of the CFP. An NFFO delegation attended the talks and at meetings with Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon, both before and after the Council, and stressed the importance of a focus on practical implementation issues when framing the reform legislation.